Paul Sugy’s editorial: “35 hours in town halls: the standoff”

In his editorial this Monday, November 15, Paul Sugy, journalist at Le Figaro, looks at the standoff between the government and several cities, including Paris, which refuse to apply the 35 hours to their officials.

Municipalities have only a month and a half to comply with this measure passed at the time of the 2019 law on the transformation of public life, which requires them to make their staff work 35 hours per week, as this is the case in the state civil service. Tick-tock, tick-tock …

We learn on this occasion, and not without dismay, that only one in two municipalities is currently in conformity with the measure. And according to Minister Amélie de Montchalin, three quarters of the cities that are not yet there have already implemented the required reforms, and will therefore be on schedule for January 1, 2022. So let’s get our little calculator: the a quarter of half, that is to say the eighth of 34,968 municipalities … more than 4,000 town halls risk being outlawed when we kiss under the mistletoe to wish each other a Happy New Year.

And as it is an open war between the mayor and the government, all blows are allowed: thus the latter shamelessly threw out the name of all the dunces. Donkey hat, therefore, for Strasbourg and Clermont-Ferrand, but also many municipalities of Seine-Saint-Denis or Val-de-Marne. Essentially left-wing municipalities, whether in the hands of socialists, environmentalists or communists. Finally, last but not least, it is the red card for Paris, whose mayor Anne Hidalgo is trying by all means to circumvent the law, to which she has explicitly made it known that she is opposed.

Anne Hidalgo had tried to get away with a trick, but her proposal was attacked at the administrative tribunal … A genius trick, even, we can say it! Paris, the world capital of the hustle and bustle. Not yet an Olympic city, but already a gold medalist in the art of taking the French for idiots.

Already it must be said that the 35 hours file took a long time to dust on the desk before someone bothered to open it. And for good reason, the town hall is now justified: we do not change the working rules of some 55,000 people on the eve of a possible change of executive. Then above all, we do not sugar the advantages acquired from its staff a few months before running for re-election …

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Since then, the town hall has therefore taken out of its hat this anthology parade: going to increase staff working time by around fifty hours, but in exchange, they are granted three additional days of RTT, on the pretext that working conditions of the territorial public service are more difficult than elsewhere. The argument could also almost be heard! Between the multiplication of traffic jams on the ring road, the noise of construction at all hours of the day or night, the crack hill or the ambient dirt, working in Paris has indeed become a tan… but whose fault is it? The administrative judge had little taste for jokes, and here is the City of Paris on the verge of becoming an outlaw.

A sort of modern-day Robin Hood, Anne Hidalgo steals from the rich (taxpayers) to give to the poor (civil servants). One of the reasons given to justify the proliferation of agreements reducing the working time of the territorial civil service was its lower level of remuneration compared to the State civil service. Clearly, Anne Hidalgo who declared that “progress is the reduction of working time”, therefore proposes to work less to earn less. It will be remembered that she had also introduced this subject in the campaign debates, by proposing basically to generalize to all employees the largesse that she already grants to her employees.

The fact remains that in her stubbornness to refuse to apply the law, Anne Hidalgo (who is certainly not responsible for these advantages decided under Delanoë and Chirac) forgets two things: on the one hand that the city’s public debt has almost doubled since 2014, and that the first of social justice is that which consists in using well funds that are not one’s own. And that on the other hand, many French people, even employees, exceed the legal ceiling of 35 hours: here again, the minimum expected of a candidate who makes equality her hobbyhorse would be ” have the decency not to make those whose job it is precisely to be… at the service of others work less than others.

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